· A review of France Corner’s 2014 book ·
As a student of fashion theory, I got used to the sort of glazed-over look of someone brushing me off as vain or superficial. Fashion, and all that goes with it, has a certain reputation and connotation. But does it really deserve it? That’s the question Frances Corner sought to answer in her 2014 book Why Fashion Matters.
Corner, the head of London College of Fashion, posed the book as “101 thoughts on why fashion matters.” Instead of a long, researched essay on why fashion matters, she presented short, succinct “thoughts” on the matter. These “thoughts” ranged from one sentence to two pages, but never more. It provided the reader with neat and memorable facts on the topic of why fashion matters.
Because it does matter. It matters to our economy, it matters to the environment, and it matters to our identity. Fashion is a part of our history, our culture, and our pocketbooks. Corner looks at how fashion empowers women in developing countries and how we use it to express ourselves.
She touches on the environment, citing that a single cotton t-shirt consumes 2,700 liters of water. Not only that, but the clothes in a British household produce the carbon emissions equivalent to driving a car 6,000 miles. She provides facts on the fashion industry’s role employing people throughout the world and its multi-billion dollar economy. She poses questions that make you think about how the fashion industry affects you personally like:
“How often do we convince ourselves that we need something when really we just want it and we want it only because it’s currently fashionable?”
It’s in questions like these, that Corner’s point begins to get across. While we can agree with the indisputable facts that fashion affects the economy and the environment, but it’s the more nuanced affect on our own selves when you really start to see why fashion matters to you.
Elizabeth Wilson wrote in Adorned in Dreams that, “Even the determinedly unfashionable wear clothes that manifestly represent a reaction against what is in fashion.” She means, that even if you think of yourself of not being fashionable, by refusing to follow trends you’re still saying something about fashion. Every single person in the Western world gets dressed in the morning, and what we choose to wear says something about ourselves and fashion. Corner’s book helps us understand all these different ways that fashion touches our lives every day.
Because fashion does matter.